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The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate prepares for impeachment trial to start

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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.

 

The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Breaking: Sen. Shelby won't seek reelection | House Republican dies of COVID | Trump’s lawyers release defense brief | Argue impeachment article should be quickly dismissed | Trial starts tomorrow | Senators expect speedy trial | How the trial puts GOP divisions on display | Dems move to quickly craft $1.9 trillion COVID relief package | Debate over stimulus check eligibility | Biden rejoins UN human rights council | Senate votes on McDonough’s nomination to lead VA | Best Super Bowl commercials | Patriots congratulate Brady

 

NEWS THIS MORNING

‘Here’s my defense. On time and perfect. Check it out.’:

 

 

Via The Hill’s Brett Samuels, “Attorneys for former President Trump on Monday argued in a new brief that the Senate should quickly dismiss the impeachment article filed against him when his trial begins this week.” https://bit.ly/3aDAlHC 

The gist of Trump’s defense, according to his lawyers: “Trump's post-presidency trial is unconstitutional, and that even if senators disagreed, Trump's speech ahead of the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol was protected by the First Amendment and did not meet the threshold of an impeachable offense.”

Excerpt from the brief: "The Article of Impeachment presented by the House is unconstitutional for a variety of reasons, any of which alone would be grounds for immediate dismissal. Taken together, they demonstrate conclusively that indulging House Democrats hunger for this political theater is a danger to our Republic democracy and the rights that we hold dear."

Rest in peace, congressman:

Via The Dallas Morning News’s Gromer Jeffers Jr., Texas Republican Rep. Ron WrightRon WrightEx-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat Some Republicans say proxy voting gives advantage to Democrats Anti-Trump Republican will seek Texas seat MORE died last night from COVID-19 at the age of 67. http://bit.ly/36VRxqV 

Wright’s office wrote in a statement: “Congressman Wright will be remembered as a constitutional conservative. He was a statesman, not an ideologue. Ron and Susan dedicated their lives to fighting for individual freedom, Texas values, and above all, the lives of the unborn. As friends, family, and many of his constituents will know, Ron maintained his quick wit and optimism until the very end. Despite years of painful, sometimes debilitating treatment for cancer, Ron never lacked the desire to get up and go to work, to motivate those around him, or to offer fatherly advice.” 

More on Wright’s deathhttp://bit.ly/36VRxqV

Another open Senate race in 2022:

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCBC 'unequivocally' endorses Shalanda Young for White House budget chief Black Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (R-Ala.) announced that he will not seek reelection in 2022. https://bit.ly/2Nb8iao

Shelby said in a statement: “Today I announce that I will not seek a seventh term in the United State Senate in 2022. For everything, there is a season … Although I plan to retire, I am not leaving today. I have two good years remaining to continue my work in Washington. I have the vision and the energy to give it my all.” 

Did this news come as a surprise? Not really…: “Shelby's announcement follows months of speculation that he was eyeing retirement, including the Associated Press reporting on Friday that he had indicated that he would not run again.”

It’s Monday — welcome back. I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook

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STARTING TOMORROW

Remember how everyone wondered what an impeachment trial would look like last time? Well, at least we don’t have those questions this time…?:

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE’s second impeachment trial of his presidency is starting tomorrow over whether to convict Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. 

Will Trump testify?: No. The impeachment managers invited him to testify, but Trump’s lawyers declined. 

How long will it last?: Trump’s first trial lasted 21 days, but this trial is expected to be even shorter. It could wrap up in just a few days. https://bit.ly/3aIvm8F     

The chances that Trump will be convicted: Very little considering that 17 Republican senators would need to vote to convict.  

Trump’s defense: “Mr. Trump’s lawyers have indicated that they once again intend to mount a largely technical defense, contending that the Senate “lacks jurisdiction” to judge a former president at all after he has left office because the Constitution does not explicitly say it can. Though many legal scholars and a majority of the Senate disagree, Republicans have flocked to the argument in droves as a justification for dismissing the case without weighing in on Mr. Trump’s conduct.” Full explanation from The New York Times’s Nicholas Fandoshttps://nyti.ms/3oTJUre

HOW THE TRIAL WILL PUT GOP DIVISIONS ON FULL DISPLAY:

Via The Hill’s Jonathan Easleyhttps://bit.ly/3aJFyOm

FIVE WAYS THE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL WILL DIFFER FROM A COURT TRIAL:

  1. Senators are both judge and jury
  2. There is no standard of proof
  3. There are no rules of evidence
  4. The punishment is political
  5. Impeachment verdict can’t be appealed

 

Context and details for each from The Hill’s John Kruzelhttps://bit.ly/36VRWd3

Interesting read — ‘Where Democrats and Republicans agree on Trump’:

Via Politico’s Andrew Desiderio, “Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial in as many years has Democrats and Republicans in rare agreement: Most senators want to get it over with, and they want the former president to go away.” https://politi.co/2YZqdUp

What Democrats think is the best strategy: “Democrats see the best way to achieve that goal as voting to convict Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection and barring him from ever holding office again.” 

What Republicans think is the best strategy: “And Republicans, particularly those nervous about Trump’s continued stranglehold on the GOP, just don’t want to poke the bear.” 

Meanwhile, there are still reminders at the Capitol

 

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/2N4ccSA 

Op-ed: https://bit.ly/36VLdzF

IN THE WHITE HOUSE

Today in undoing the last administration:

Via The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant, “The Biden administration has announced plans to reengage with the United Nations Human Rights Council after the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the body in 2018.” https://bit.ly/2MIRqYM

Why: “Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenChina: Electoral reform would bring 'brighter future' for Hong Kong State sanctions Ukrainian billionaire over alleged corruption Australian PM Morrison says Biden will join first-ever 'Quad' meeting MORE in a statement on Monday described the council as a mechanism to ‘promote fundamental freedoms around the globe.’ He acknowledged that the body is ‘flawed’ and in need of reform but said the decision by the previous administration to withdraw from it in June 2018 ‘created a vacuum of U.S. leadership, which countries with authoritarian agendas have used to their advantage.’ ”

From the weekend — Oh how festive!:

 

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3q1ZAKq 

Also from Biden’s Delaware trip this weekend — this is so relaxing to watch: Here’s a slow-mo video of the snow falling on President Biden’s home church. (Via The Washington Post’s Seung Min KimWatchhttps://bit.ly/3a4w3u9

LATEST WITH THE CORONAVIRUS

I am ALL FOR sharing any good news on the COVID front:

For the first time in 2021, the number of new daily coronavirus cases has dropped below 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. https://bit.ly/3cVI6LU

How many new cases were recorded yesterday: Just less than 87,000

The last time the number of new daily cases was below 100,000: On Nov. 2 

Deaths are also wayyy down: “Deaths are also down, according to data kept by The New York Times. It recorded 1,301 deaths on Sunday, compared to 4,101 deaths on Jan. 27 and 4,406 on Jan. 12.”

CASE NUMBERS:

Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 27,013,905 

U.S. death toll: 463,584

Breakdown of the numbershttps://cnn.it/2UAgW3y

VACCINATION NUMBERS:

Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 42 million shots have been given 

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 1.46 million doses.  

For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million

Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING IN CONGRESS THIS WEEK

Spotted: Democrats doing warm-up stretches:

Via The Hill’s Jordain Carney, “Democrats are moving quickly to craft a $1.9 trillion coronavirus package as they prepare to hold a vote in the House later this month.” https://bit.ly/2NaZKjR 

Isn’t the House out this week?: Yes, but “the committees are expected to spend the week drafting legislation in line with President Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal.” 

What Democrats are working out: “Democrats will need to work out several internal divisions about the details of the bill as they prepare to move forward.” Including: Income eligibility for the next round of stimulus checks. 

Where Republicans come in: Democrats are hoping to have GOP support in the final bill, but it’s possible they won’t. “If Democrats try to pass a bill on their own they face a slim margin in the House and no room for error in the Senate, where they would need all of the 50-member Democratic caucus.”  

What to expecthttps://bit.ly/2NaZKjR

WHERE Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Senate begins marathon vote-a-rama before .9T COVID-19 relief passage The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Virus relief bill headed for weekend vote Debt to break WWII record by 2031 MORE STANDS ON THE INCOME THRESHOLD FOR STIMULUS CHECKS:

In an interview with CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperAll eyes on Manchin after COVID-19 aid passes Senate Sunday shows: Manchin in the spotlight after pivotal role in coronavirus aid debate Michigan governor touts J&J vaccine after Detroit mayor turns down doses MORE on “State of the Union,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that she thinks a $60,000 income threshold would be fair. https://bit.ly/36Q1yWA

HAPPENING TODAY — A VOTE TO LEAD THE VA:

The Senate is voting later today on the nomination of Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Increased security on Capitol Hill amid QAnon's March 4 date The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill Pentagon launches civilian-led commission to address military sexual assault MORE’s to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. https://bit.ly/2NaZKjR

NOTABLE TWEETS:

Spotted in Washington, DC:

 

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3jrnz3c 

ON TAP:

The Senate is in. The House is out. President Biden returned to the White House from his weekend in Delaware. Vice President Harris is in Washington, D.C. 

8:25 a.m. EST: President Biden leaves Wilmington, Del., and flies back to the White House.

10:15 a.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris received the President’s Daily Brief.

3 p.m. EST: The Senate meets. The Senate’s full agenda todayhttps://bit.ly/2LzE0Oq 

5:30 p.m. EST: The Senate votes on the confirmation of Denis McDonough to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Tuesday: The Hill is hosting a virtual event on “Complex Generics & The Prescription Drug Landscape.” Details and how to RSVP: https://bit.ly/2YIZyLh

Thursday: The Hill is hosting an event, “COVID-19 & The Opioid Epidemic.” Details and how to RSVPhttps://bit.ly/2N2tlfs

WHAT TO WATCH:

11 a.m. EST: The White House’s COVID-19 response team held a press briefing. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/39XuUEm 

Noon: White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiMississippi governor defends ending mask mandate Border crisis creates new risks for Biden Cruz puts hold on Biden's CIA nominee MORE is holding a press briefing. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/3jFLGvf 

2:30 p.m. EST: President Biden and Vice President Harris virtually tour the State Farm Stadium vaccination site in Glendale, Ariz. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/2LuK76u

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:

Today is National Molasses Bar Day.

Feel like you missed the best commercials? Because SAME HERE.:

CNN’s Leah Asmelash pulled together a few of the best Super Bowl commercials. The list (with videos!) https://cnn.it/2YTkL5v

That’s a classy gesture:

 

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/3p0cDdZ 

^ What the Gronk tweet is referring to

Rob Gronkowski apparently dented the Super Bowl LIII trophy while warming up to throw the first pitch at Fenway Park. More of that story from Mass Livehttps://bit.ly/3tDPSQv

HERE ARE A FEW PHOTOS OF THE BUCS CELEBRATING THEIR VICTORY:

Via USA Today’s Nick Schwartzhttps://bit.ly/3tAcph8

And to brighten your Monday afternoon, here’s a puppy with the tiniest legs: https://bit.ly/3p0vqG2